Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review

March 15th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Aimed squarely at the urban tradesman, the Hilux was almost immediately pressed into service helping me move a large number of items from one storage place to another, including things like a ladder and garden tools. Our test Hilux had been fitted with a number of useful SR5 options such as a roof rack, security alarm, reversing sensors, nudge bars in stainless steel, rear corner protectors, side running boards, a custom cab, towbar, monsoon windows, alloys, a clear acrylic bonnet protector and more. These added significantly to the visual appearance of the Hilux, and added significantly to the price (see the table below).

If you don’t need four-wheel drive because your working life involves visiting the suburbs, you’ll benefit from the extra efficiency that not having to drive all four wheels gives you (8.1 litres per 100km as opposed to 8.3l/100km) and, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the five-speed manual gearbox and sense of connectedness with what’s going on that is often lacking in today’s vehicles.

The gearbox grabs the power from the 3-litre turbodiesel which sucks air into the intercooler via a bonnet scoop. It produces 126kW and 343Nm which gives it adequate acceleration for getting out of junctions in the city. A limited slip rear differential helps keep the power to the ground, but no Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review” »

Ford NZ announces range and pricing for new 2012 Ford Ranger ute

October 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford New Zealand has just announced the available range and pricing for the all-new 2012 Ford Ranger ute.

Using a more powerful diesel engine the new Ranger features fresh brawny styling and a broad range of equipment. It will be available in 2WD and 4WD forms with three cab variants – Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab. There are three trim levels on offer, the entry spec XL, mid-range XLT and top-dog Wildtrack model. The Ranger is available in a wide range of configurations and pricing varies from $34,690 for the base model manual 2WD model all the way to $66,290 for the Wildtrack 4WD double cab with 6-speed automatic transmission.

“Designed from the ground up, the highly anticipated all-new Ranger, available in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, has been comprehensively developed to meet the needs of New Zealand ute and light truck customers,” said Neale Hill, Managing Director of Ford New Zealand. “The creation and design of the all new Ranger involved an Australian-based, four-year development programme, involving almost 500 engineers from around the Ford world. Continue reading “Ford NZ announces range and pricing for new 2012 Ford Ranger ute” »

Mazda CX-7 GSX 2010 Review

August 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s a fact that not all crossover vehicles are created equal, not just in terms of quality and appeal but also in their focus and job description. It’s a broad market segment with some crossover’s spinning all four wheels almost equally well on tarmac as on dirt tracks. Others are far more directed at suburban duties relying on looks and ride comfort to build a loyal fan base. Then there’s Mazda’s CX-7 which has been an enigma since its release back in 2007. With curvaceous styling and a focus on performance and dynamics the CX-7 blazed its own trail and built its own niche. Now for 2010, the CX-7 has received a mid-life facelift and is rediscovering its slot in the competitive crossover market. Car and SUV got into the driver’s seat of the reworked CX-7 to find out exactly what makes it tick.

Aesthetically, the CX-7 defies any SUV squareness, instead opting for full-figured curves and swooping lines. The 2010 refresh uses some minor styling changes to bring the CX-7 into line with the rest of Mazda’s current lineup. The most obvious change is the redesigned front end that boasts a larger five-point grille and new fog-light housing. On our lower-spec tested GSX model there were some classy touches like silver trim framing the windows and indicator repeaters in the side mirrors. The GSX has 17-inch alloys that are an attractive design but struggle to fill the arches. The top model CX-7 Limited comes fitted with 19-inch wheels which are better matched to the pumped up sheet metal.

Inside the CX-7 there’s a new high-grade dark cloth trim lining the supportive and well positioned front seats. The instrumentation has also been reworked to include Mazda’s latest display screen that shows fuel usage, audio information and doubles up as a monitor for the onboard reversing camera. All switchgear is sensibly laid out and the orange/blue nighttime illumination is a real feature. Stereo and cruise control buttons are neatly housed in the leather-wrapped steering wheel which will prove handy for shorter drivers who will have to stretch to access the centre control stack. Everything feels well screwed together and while interior quality has improved, the contrasting silver trim may not have the same long-term durability as the main surfaces. In terms of occupant space there is plenty of shoulder and leg room for front passengers, the back seat provides ample head room and leg room is adequate but not class leading. Standard equipment for the CX-7 in GSX trim includes a tilt and rake adjustable steering wheel, remote central locking, climate air-con, one-touch power windows and a 6-disk CD player with aux input. A Bluetooth hands free phone kit is available as a dealer-fitted accessory.

Continue reading “Mazda CX-7 GSX 2010 Review” »

Ford Ranger XL 4×2 2009 Review

November 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ford’s range of Ranger utes is headed up by the all-singing, all-dancing Ranger Wildtrak (read review). But which Ranger does the real dirty work and occupies the bottom rung of the ladder? That would be the base-model 2WD Ranger XL. So what does this blue-collar workhorse have to offer? Car and SUV spent a week at the helm of a Ranger XL to uncover any signs of raw charm.

Like any base-model vehicle the Ranger’s strongest selling point should be its price. But with a $36,790 tag the single cab Ranger XL is priced at a $3k to $6k premium over its main rivals in the base-model Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado and Navara DX. The Ranger has been recently refreshed and certainly looks the part, but is that enough to warrant the extra coin.

Visually the Ranger XL is modern, even in its most standard guise. A chunky silver grille, vents in the guards and a raised bonnet line create interest up front. Out back it’s all business with simple horizontally mounted backlights. On our ‘chassis only’ model a loading tray represents a not-quite-optional extra and will depend on purpose and preference. Our test Ranger made use of a metal framed wooden tray with drop-down sides that had a certain agricultural chic and solid practicality. The Spartan exterior look is finished off with 15-inch steel wheels as standard.

Under the bulging bonnet lays Ford’s 2.5-litre turbo diesel power plant that makes use of common rail injection and is good for 105kW of power at 3,500rpm. What’s more impressive is the 330Nm of torque on offer from just 1,800rpm giving the Ranger XL some stump-pulling twist. Unladen it can be quite brisk and has no problems keeping up with urban traffic while returning a respectable 8.5L/100km combined fuel economy. Mated exclusively to a 5-speed manual transmission the Ranger XL is a breeze to drive around town with its light clutch and well-mannered engine. On the downside, excessive wind, road and engine noise enter the cabin making the Ranger XL a notch unrefined even among utes.

In terms of handling, the Ranger’s leaf-sprung rear end will float around with minimal weight over the back axle, and can be left wanting for grip in wet conditions. That said, the rear driving wheels push hard making good use of the available torque and a limited slip differential to provide a competent feel regardless of road surface.  Off-road it won’t be able to match its 4WD siblings but it does have good clearance and a solid ladder frame chassis giving it some capability in the rough stuff. The 2WD Ranger is $7k cheaper than its 4WD match which represents a good saving if it’s destined for predominately on-road use.

On work duty the Ranger is all business with a carrying payload of 1308kg and a towing capacity of 2250kg with a braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.

Durability is the call in the Ranger’s cabin with large doses of plastic, rubber and hardwearing cloth. A three-ringed instrument cluster and silver trim add some flair to the basic but well laid out switchgear. All surfaces can be easily wiped down and there are some convenient touches like an auxiliary input for the single-CD Stereo, small item storage, cup holders and a slide-out document tray. However, the Ranger’s base-model status is highlighted by the absence of electric windows and remote locking.  The single-piece bench seat is firm but comfortable and has a middle passenger lap seat belt. The middle seat is little more than a token gesture and would involve someone seated straddling the gearstick making for a rather bonding experience between driver and passenger.

Safety was once a non-consideration in the ute segment but is now taken far more seriously. The Ranger XL has occupants covered with driver and passenger airbags and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

While the Ranger XL is an unashamedly bare bones base-model it is well-constructed and very easy to drive against both urban and rural backdrops. Its diesel engine is strong and the chassis and suspension are ready to put in some hard yakka. Styling is suitably modern and the cabin is simple and robust. While the Ranger struggles to compete on price and reputation with its competitors Ford brand fans and those who simply don’t want another Hilux will easily find appeal.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications

Price: $36,790 chassis only

What we like:

  • Front styling
  • Torquey economical engine
  • Tough chassis

What we don’t like:

  • Wind and road noise
  • Pointless middle-seat
  • Price

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Ford Ranger 4×2 Single Cab – Specifications

Fuel Economy

Combined fuel economy (L/100km) 8.51
Fuel Diesel
Fuel tank capacity (L) 70

Emissions Data

CO2 emissions (g/km) 21921


2.5L Turbo diesel common rail injection
Alternator 70 AMP
Battery 12V 64 AMP
Bore x Stroke (mm) 93.0 x 92.0
Compression ratio 18
Configuration DOHC 16 valve
Displacement (cc) 2,499 cc
Max. Power (DIN) 105kW @ 3,500rpm
Max. Torque (DIN) 330Nm @1,800 Rpm

Towing Capacity – Maximum (kg)

Braked 2250
Unbraked 750


Front – Fully Independent Double Wishbone. Torsion bar springs & double action shock absorbers
Rear – Dual rate semi-elliptic leaf spring fore/aft mounted, double action shock absorbers. Semi floating hypoid rear axle

Wheels & Tyres

Wheels 15″ x 6.5″
Tyres 215/70 R15
Type Steel
Spare wheel Steel

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Ground clearance – Minimum unladen (rear axle differential) 181
Height – Overall 1622
Length – Overall 4848
Length – Back of cab to rear axle 1208
Overhang – Front 888
Overhang – Rear 975
River fording depth 400
Track – Rear 1450
Track – Front 1445
Wheelbase 2985
Width – Overall 1715

Vehicle Masses

Axle rating – Front maximum 1170
Axle rating – Rear maximum 1860
Gross combination mass (GCM) 5100
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 2870
Kerb mass (kg) 1562
Payload (maximum) (kg) 1308

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo